|Jimmy Shoffman and Leigh Treat|
"The Last Five Years is a small scale, two person, romantic musical that tells the story of a failed marriage. Based on an actual relationship in composer Jason Robert Brown's past, it is a story of both hope and hurt with some terrific songs from Brown. The production running at Desert Stages Theatre in Scottsdale gets many things right in their intimate staging of this modern musical.
Writer Jamie and actress Cathy are your typical young, artsy and aspiring New York couple. Both in their twenties, he's a writer, who finds success fairly quickly; she's a struggling actress. Over the five year period of the show we see them meet, fall in love, fight a little, have some touching moments together, get married, squabble, fall out of love and ultimately separate. The theatrical gimmick of the piece is that, at the beginning of the show, Cathy is shown at the end of the relationship, hurting and heartbroken, and moves backward in time to their first date, while Jamie starts at the very beginning of the relationship, eager and feeling he has finally met the girl of his dreams, and moves forward through all the pressures and struggles of their lives to the end with him ultimately moving out of their apartment.
Since the two characters barely interact, Jason Robert Brown's The Last Five Years is a slightly confusing story to tell and a challenging show to sing, but still a rewarding theatrical journey to take. The Desert Stages production has good direction, great musical direction and fine actors playing both parts, with Jimmy Shoffman especially exceptional as Jamie. If you're a fan of contemporary and serious Off-Broadway musicals, or of musicals with intricate songs that tell stories, even with a few small quibbles, there is much to like in The Last Five Years at Desert Stages Theatre. "
The Desert Stages production of The Last Five Years runs through May 18th with performances at 4720 N. Scottsdale Road in Scottsdale. Tickets are available at www.DesertStages.org or by phone at (480) 483-1664
Photo: Heather Butcher/Desert Stages Theatre